At the thirteenth time of asking, Hamburg finally got their first Bundesliga win of the season edging out Darmstadt to move off the bottom. In Sunday's late game, it was a point each for Frankfurt and Augsburg.
Darmstadt 0-2 Hamburg
(Gregoritsch 30', Ostrzolek 90')
In a match that was as close to do or die as it's possible for a December league fixture to be - particularly for the visitors - both sides struggled to produce much in the way of cohesion or clear chances. When the final whistle blew and the men in white danced in front of the traveling fans, it didn't look like Hamburg cared much at all how well they had played. They were just delighted to finally win a game.
After half an hour of fruitless huffing and puffing, the visitors at last managed to build up a head of steam. Some nifty footwork on HSV's left allowed Filip Kostic, Hamburg's brightest spark all season, some space and the Serbian winger whipped a low cross across the six yard line. Michael Gregoritsch threw himself at the delivery to finish with an emphatic diving header for his third goal in two games.
Hamburg continued to take the game to the hosts and Nicolai Müller almost doubled their lead on the stroke of halftime, firing over from just outside the box after Darmstadt failed to clear their lines.
The second period opened in the same tense, scrappy manner as the first, though Hamburg showed evidence of their fragility at the back - Johan Djourou was almost caught out on the edge of his box on the hour mark.
Shortly after, both Gregoritsch and Müller failed to convert presentable chances, while Kostic twice went close - first with a left wing cross that almost dropped in at the back post, then a flash across goal from a similar position.
But it didn't matter. After Darmstadt pressed forward with little creativity, Hamburg skipper Gotoku Sakai found Matthias Ostrzolek after a driving midfield run. The left back drilled in his first Bundesliga goal, fitting in with one of the themes of the weekend, and sealing all three points.
The victory is Hamburg's first in the league since they beat Augsburg on May 14 and Gisdol's first as HSV boss. For Darmstadt, it's now four defeats in a row and a long winter lies ahead.
Augsburg 1-1 Eintracht Frankfurt
(Hrgota 11' – Ji 34')
A pair of stunning first-half strikes meant the points were shared in an entertaining game in Bavaria. Branimir Hrgota's early goal gave Frankfurt the lead before Dong-Won Ji leveled things up. Both sides had chances to nick a winner but neither could find another moment of quality.
Buoyed by their surprise win over Dortmund last week, Frankfurt started brightly, with Alexander Meier to the fore. Despite Eintracht's talisman forcing a save with an early header, Augsburg failed to cope with his aerial threat, allowing Hrgota to open the scoring with a powerful left-footed strike.
Meier won a header almost unchallenged, picking out Hrgota in a yard of space outside the box with plenty still to do. The Swede was up to the challenge though, rifling a low drive on the bounce through the legs of Martin Hinteregger and past the dive of Marwin Hitz.
Meier couldn't stay out of the spotlight and the striker almost leveled things up when he diverted an Augsburg free kick towards his own net just before the half-hour mark. Thankfully for the striker, he was bailed out by Lukas Hradecky in the Frankfurt goal.
But Dong-Won Ji wasn't prepared to wait any longer for Frankfurt to do his side a favor. The visiting defense cleared from a corner and Augsburg's South Korean forward took an excellent first touch on the edge of the box. His cushioned control bought him time to compose himself, wait for the ball to bounce and caress a precise but powerful finish past Hradecky's right hand.
Ji thought he had a second just after the break when he lobbed Hradecky after running on to Hinteregger's long ball, but the flag was raised again. Then both Daniel Baier and Schmid stung the keeper's palms from distance as Augsburg tried to force home a new-found dominance.
Soon the pendulum swung again and it was Frankfurt's turn to go close. Meier latched onto a through ball, escaped his man and dinked a delicate chip over Hitz from a tight angle, but Konstantinos Stafylidis was there to nod off the line.
It was the last real chance of the match, and the result means Frankfurt leapfrog Dortmund in to fifth, while Augsburg now have a six-point cushion on the relegation play-off spot and stay in 12th.